cover image Incendiary Designs: A Jack Caleb and John Thinnes Mystery

Incendiary Designs: A Jack Caleb and John Thinnes Mystery

Michael Allen Dymmoch. Minotaur Books, $15.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-19245-7

Chicago homicide detective John Thinnes and gay psychiatrist Dr. Jack Caleb, the unlikely and slightly mismatched stars of Dymmoch's well-received The Man Who Understood Cats and The Death of Blue Mountain Cat, continue their somewhat uneasy alliance in this third installment. The solid, sometimes tedious but always believable details of Thinnes's investigation of a series of arson murders serve as ballast for some heavy coincidences that ground the plot line. The first of these is used to connect the pair and describes Caleb's heroics when, jogging in Lincoln Park one morning and coming upon a band of cultists trying to burn a cop car, he fends them off long enough to pull out the cop who has been locked inside. Thinnes is put on the case. Another obviously convenient twist is Caleb's developing relationship with a man who becomes one of the suspects in an arson-for-hire scheme. Murders proliferate as the investigation intensifies; all the while Dymmoch weaves a compelling tapestry of various Chicago neighborhoods and their cultures. In the end, the pace of the plotting, the absorbing action scenes and the appeal of most of the cast compensate for the handy serendipities. Agent, Ray Powers. (Nov.)